|CBC photo of child known as S.S.|
This is a highly emotional custody battle. It's playing out in a B.C. Court. The B.C. Ministry of Children have decided to remove a happy Metis toddler from her Metis foster parents who reside on Vancouver Island and relocate her to Ontario to the non Metis couple who are raising the girl's siblings. This two year old has never met her siblings and her biological parents who wish to continue contact also reside on Vancouver Island. Her birth father said, “We love our daughter very, very much. And she needs to stay here. She needs to stay where her home is.” "She's so happy." “The foster parents are amazing. They’re wonderful people,” the birth father added. “I wish they were my own parents in some ways.” ---- Tomorrow an incisive response from Ray Ferris.
The two-year old girl's foster parents are petitioning B.C. Supreme Court to allow them to adopt the child, and are arguing girl has already formed a strong emotional bond with them. The government contests this bid by arguing that it’s an abuse of the court process because another judge already sided with the ministry last year. The foster family’s lawyer, Jack Hittrich, said the new petition must be considered because it includes an unheard argument over S.S.’s constitutional rights. Hittrich is asking a B.C. Supreme Court judge for an interim order to keep the girl in the care of the foster parents until a full hearing on their petition can be held later this year. Hittrich told the judge this past Friday that moving the girl across the country, and then possibly moving her back if the petition is successful, would harm her emotionally and mentally. “There’s overwhelming evidence before you that the disruption of the status quo, pending the full hearing of the current petition, is simply not in the best interests of this little girl,” he said.
The foster mom says she knew the Ministry intended to move the infant girl to Ontario, but says the MCFD took to long, and now in two years, the girl has bonded with them and the biological parents. She says, “It’s been mishandled and the child should not be the one who suffers. This has never been about us, this has always been about the child.”
“Allowing a move to parents she has never met, who are truly strangers to her ... and then moving her back, if the relief on appeal or the petition is successful, could be even more harmful to her.”
Keith Henry, president of the B.C. Metis Federation, said the Metis community was never consulted in a meaningful way in the case, and that his organization wants to see the child stay.
“This girl must not be moved,” Henry said. “To put [her] with a non-Metis family is absolutely a non-starter in our community.”